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Central Falcons do the double

Dalefield players [left to right] Benedict van Woerkom, Jordan Cohen, Trent Lett, and Dane Lett with the premier league trophy. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Six Wairarapa players taste national success in premier league

HOCKEY

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Six Wairarapa hockey players came away winners from the inaugural national premier league which ended in Hamilton on Sunday.

Dalefield player-coach and Black Stick international Dane Lett, Trent Lett, Benedict van Woerkom, and Jordan Cohen were part of the Central Falcons’ side who won the men’s championship in a thrilling shootout.

Dalefield and ex-Black Stick Felicity Reidy, and former Wairarapa College student and current Black Stick Megan Hull played for the champion Falcons’ women’s team, who won their title the previous weekend.

The Central Falcons had confirmed their place in the men’s final after winning their first four games, allowing the team to experiment in their last two round-robin games.

“We ended up losing our last two by a goal,” Dane Lett said.

“But we were trialing different things, we were giving everyone a good run, and we took the opportunity to freshen up our main players so we could hit the final with a bit more in the legs, and we didn’t want to show too much.”

Felicity Reidy. PHOTO/FILE

In a tight, tense final against the Southern Alpiners, it took until the 58th minute for Falcons striker Sam Hiha to break the deadlock after finding space in the circle and clinically put away the chance.

The Alpiners immediately took off their keeper for all-out attack. That paid off a minute later when they won a penalty corner, which Sam Lane converted with a drag flick.

That sent the match to a shootout, which were reduced from five players to three players for the tournament. Falcons’ goalkeeper Dom Dixon [Hawke’s Bay] saved all three attempts, while veteran international Stephen Jenness, found the back of the goal to secure the victory.

Dane Lett was happy to get away with the win and said all the Dalefield players contributed over the tournament.

“I think they all played every game, and they all did their jobs well,” he said.

“Benny was running around in midfield with Jordan, and Trent was pretty solid in defence. They all had good moments and made a pretty account of themselves. I think they will be happy.”

Meanwhile, in the women’s final against the Northern Tridents, the Falcons took an early lead when Hull swept the ball from a penalty corner to the post where Jenna-Rae McIntyre deflected the ball into the goal.

Megan Hull. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

Kristin Pearce tied the scores early in the second quarter, before Kayla Whitelock scored from a penalty stroke, and Michaela Curtis scored from a turnover to give the Falcons a two-goal buffer at halftime.

The Tridents pushed hard to close the gap, but the Falcons’ defence held for a 3-1 victory.

Dane Lett was impressed with the leagues, which were reduced to four teams from the eight teams who played in the National Hockey League [NHL].

“It meant that the quality was quite high, so for national selections it’s really good, because you’re testing people out in a real high-level competition,” he said.

“There was quite a big jump from NHL and what that has been in the past – that’s the whole idea of it, to try and get a bit closer to international hockey.”

Lett, who has 77 caps for the Black Sticks, is quietly confident of retaining his place in the 25-man strong squad to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics.

The men’s and women’s squads should be picked before Christmas.

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